Readers, I am officially a man on a mission! With the holidays upon us, I have decided it's time to make Cathy a really sumptuous evening dress and, after watching the 1948 Esther Williams film, "On An Island With You," I have become obsessed with this Irene Lentz-Gibbons (more commonly known as Irene) dress worn by Cyd Charisse in a tango she performs with Ricardo Montalban.
It's said a picture's worth a thousand words and a YouTube video even more. Here's the dress in motion on beautiful Cyd Charisse, whose resemblance to my cousin Cathy in both coloring and carriage is remarkable.
I must make this dress, readers. Here's what I've gleaned so far, and I'm hoping you will help me with anything I've missed.
The slip-style top looks like a simple bodice like one might find on a ballerina's tutu. In fact, the skirt starts just below the waistline as it does on a tutu. There's a modified basque shape to the bottom of the bodice. And spaghetti straps.
The bodice is overlaid with black lace. Below it is a yoke-like band. Does the bodice have princess seams? Some tutus do, others do not. Would the princess seamed version be preferable to avoid deep darts?
The skirt looks like black silk chiffon (a full circle?) over a net crinoline with a very wide, densely gathered tulle ruffle whose color matches the bodice. If you notice in the film, when Cyd Charisse swirls, the skirt is semi-transparent. It also looks like the hem of the skirt is ever so slightly longer in back, do you agree?
Even though I already own pattern pieces to make this -- specifically Simplicity 5006 (below), which can be adapted, I think, I went ahead and picked up contemporary Simplicity 2067, which also includes a very late-Forties-ish shrug (worn by the ballerina angel in the main pic), which modest Cathy will likely want to wear when she's not on the dance floor with her Latin lover. That would look great in black lace over sheer organza.
Friends, what have I missed?
I am very fortunate to own Susan Khalje's wonderful book, "Bridal Couture," which will carry me through the lace placement on the bodice; I've only worked with lace once before, and it was very cheap poly lace that was super-easy to work with.
Do you agree with my assessment of the dress? What do you think the colored fabric of the bodice should be, and how about the black fabric? Velvet, silk satin? Do you know of any other sewing patterns that might be helpful?
I'm a native New Yorker and self-taught sewing fanatic! I've been sewing obsessively since 2009 and today make all my own clothes using mostly vintage patterns and vintage sewing machines. Welcome to the warm and whimsical world of Male Pattern Boldness, where the conversation is sewing, style, fashion, fabric, and more!